During holidays PKP Cargo began to use, on a regular basis, drones purchased for protection of its trains and railway areas. After several months of tests, drones purchased by PKP CARGO are used on the territory of the whole country, with particular focus on the Silesian Province. Unmanned aerial vehicles are operated by specially trained operators who have passed state examinations and obtained certificates of the Civil Aviation Administration. The use of modern devices is an element of counteracting cargo thefts. As a result of initiatives undertaken by PKP CARGO, in the first half of the year losses on account of goods stolen from the trains were limited by almost 60 percent.
By securing its trains, PKP CARGO puts emphasis, first of all, on prevention. The carrier cooperates with the Railway Protection Guard and the Police, responsibility of which is to prosecute perpetrators of crimes. In 2014 special Operational Team within PKP Cargo was established, which main purpose is to reduce losses incurred by the largest Polish carrier.
“In cooperation with the Railway Protection Guard and the Police we have intensified our preventive actions. Recorded losses decreased by 1.6 million. zlotys. The use of drones certainly have had a substantial effect on such good result and it is worth remembering that it was only the period of testing the devices. We started to use regularly the machines to protect our carriages” – says Maciej Borecki, Head of Security and Audit Office of PKP CARGO - “Drones will surely find many other applications – we will use them, for example, to check whether the wagons returned by our customers were emptied properly. This will significantly shorten the time of such inspections, necessary for smooth work” - he adds.
Drones record the images near a train an send it in real-time to the seat of Operational Team. Thanks to the fact that the cameras mounted on them have high quality optical zoom, it is possible to acquire the evidence which allows the Police to identify perpetrators of thefts. They are practically inaudible in the air, moreover, they are difficult to spot due to small size and colour. It definitely makes them more effective. The machines can be used also at night and during bad weather conditions as they are equipped with high quality thermal vision cameras enabling human detection from more than one kilometre.
PKP Cargo will use drones throughout Poland yet, first of all, in Silesia region where the scale of theft incidents is largest. “Silesia region is of critical importance to us, since 60 percent of domestic and 70 percent of exporting carriages set out from here. Also nearly three fourths of cargo thefts were recorded in this region” – explains Maciej Borecki.
PKP Cargo drone operators have undergone careful training covering, e.g. Air Law, operational procedures, principles of performing flights, as well as practical drone pilotage training. They have also passed state examinations and received certificates of qualifications issued by the Civil Aviation Authority. These qualifications are necessary to perform drone flights in Poland.
In the first half of 2015 the value of stolen shipments and goods in railway areas decreased in annual terms by 59 percent. The number of theft incidents at that time decreased by 44 percent.
The material most commonly stolen by criminals from PKP Cargo trains is coal. In the first half of the year 350 of such incidents were recorded - 36 percent less than a year ago. Number of stolen scrap, another cargo "popular" among thieves, decreased by as much as 62 percent. Perpetrators stolen are usually the members of organised crime groups. One of the most frequently used methods is an attempt to stop the train e.g. by placing an obstacle across the tracks. In order to avoid the disaster, train drivers are forced to stop the train and inform competent services about the event. Then, in a matter of minutes, thieves manage to "syphon off" coal. During a single incident they are able to steal as much as several tons of coal.